Washington, Dec 13 (EFE).- President Barack Obama on Tuesday signed the 21st Century Cures Act, approved last week with bipartisan support in Congress and which will allocate $6.3 billion over the next seven years to research in fighting cancer and combating the heroin addiction epidemic.
Part of those funds will also be used to improve mental health programs, push for precision medicine and modernize the development of medications by the Food and Drug Administration.
Obama signed the bill at a White House ceremony accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden and a number of Democratic and Republican lawmakers.
The president acknowledged David and Kate Grubb, who were present at the bill signing and lost their daughter Jessica to a heroin overdose in West Virginia, where they live and a state with one of the highest heroin and opiate addiction rates, a problem that has become an epidemic in many parts of the country.
The law will allocate $1 billion to treatment for prescription medication abuse and heroin use.
Another key part of the 21st Century Cures Act is the $1.8 billion that will go to the campaign headed by Biden to cure cancer.
The law “will fundamentally … change the culture of our fight against cancer, and inject an overwhelming sense of … urgency … because every single moment counts,” said Biden, who lost his 46-year-old son Beau to a cancerous brain tumor in May 2015.
Obama said in his remarks prior to signing the bill that he believes the United States should be the country “that ends cancer once and for all.”
Biden since the beginning of this year had headed a working group with an initial budget of $1 billion, the aim of which is to collect public and private resources for research on cancer.
The law also will allow forward movement on initiatives linked to precision medicine, which focuses on personalized treatments based on the genetic profile of patients and other factors, as Obama noted.
In addition, it will include expanding an ambitious multidisciplinary program launched by Obama in 2013 to construct a map of the human brain that can help cure diseases such as Alzheimer’s and epilepsy.
The law also includes funds to improve the US mental health system and will modernize the Food and Drug Administration’s clinical trials and incorporate patient comments into the development of new products and treatments.
The law will “literally … save lives” and will give “millions” of people “hope,” said Biden.